Thursday, 19 August 2010

Wochenendli in der Schweiz

My fondness for Switzerland is no secret to most of you . And neither is my fondness for Oli. So I was excited about heading to Baden to see my dear, far away friend last weekend. As Oli had to work on the Friday, I spent a very nice and very sleepy day hanging around Zuerich. The city and its surrounds were my old stomping ground when I was working in Reichenburg and I used to retreat to Zuerich at weekends whenever village life became too claustrophobic! From the station I leisurely made my way to Buerkliplatz through the Altstadt, enjoying the sights and sounds of the City; the Konditoreien and Tea Rooms, where the tartes and pastries look like the ones found in doll’s houses with cherries on top; the beautiful cobbled streets; the shuttered windows and doors. And then to Buerkliplatz, where I was met by an array of colourful fruit and Veg stalls and hundreds of cheerful shoppers buying flowery bouquets. (The Swiss love flowers; practically every window of every home has a box of red geraniums and it’s the only country I remember seeing floral displays on the passport control desks). After a short, snoozey boat trip on the Zuerichsee followed by another relaxed stroll around town, I decided to find a train to Baden. That evening we decided to climb the Uetliberg and enjoy the views of Zurich from there.

Here is the view of the mountain from Oli’s window.

And here is a view of Zuerich from the mountain.

Our initial plan for the weekend had been to go hiking and camping in the Berge but the forecast of rain saved me and it fell to us to think of other ways to entertain ourselves for the weekend.

On Saturday we went back to Zuerich for Street Parade, a huge dance music festival which snaked through the city. The music was loud, the booze was abundant, and the outfits made Brighton Pride seem conservative in comparison.

We decided to head down to Kanton Fribourg on Sunday to visit the Gruyere Cheese Factory and the Callier Chocolate Factory. After a lengthy train ride we arrived at Gruyere first and were taken on an audio tour by a cow named Cerise (!) who told us about the happy life she leads and about all the wonderful things she eats to create the delicious flavour of her milk. A short walk took us up the hill into the town of Gruyere where we had a drink and a sit down and admired the medieval town.

I don’t know what came over us next but we thought it would be a good idea to walk the 5km from Gruyere to Broc, we could see the town from the castle and it didn’t seem a long journey. It was only when we were nearly at Broc and shattered that we looked back and saw just how far away the castle had been (and the footpath had, of course, taken us the long and scenic route around the castle and through the fields). It was only the thought of the chocolate at the end that kept me going. The hot chocolate I drank upon our arrival was a welcome treat and we enjoyed the chocolate themed films and the little chocolate history lesson. But my favourite part was the look of glee on Oli’s face when a peek through the curtain into the final room of the tour revealed a chocolate tasting area! Yum!

We had stupidly already eaten raw cocoa beans and little chocolate staengli straight from the production line on the way round so we weren’t able to test quite all of the chocolates but Oli put in a pretty strong effort and I managed to eat a few more than my stomach wanted to allow me.

We sat at Broc Fabrique station feeling bloated and full and happy, and exchanging knowing looks with a cheerful looking elderly couple also waiting for the train. The day finished with a delightful train ride back to Bulle on which none of the passengers in the tiny carriage knew quite where to look as grazing sheep and cows, golden fields of corn, breathtaking river valleys, galloping ponies and Gruyere Castle itself passed either side of us.

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